Years ago, the Righteous Brothers recorded a song that went on to become a classic. In the chorus, they sang, “You lost that lovin' feelin' / Whoa, that lovin' feelin' / You lost that lovin' feelin' / Now it's gone, gone, gone.” We don’t know the name of the person they were singing to, but, one thing is clear – their relationship with that person had changed.
It’s not uncommon for Christians to feel that, over time, their relationship with Jesus changes. When they first hear the news of God’s love for them in Christ, they are overwhelmed with joy. Their first experience of the Holy Spirit’s presence is more satisfying than anything they have ever known. They feel as if they are now truly alive for the first time in their lives. But, sometimes for believers, with the passing of time, this all begins to change. While, at first, they were filled with delight to think of what Christ had done for them, they now begin to worry about whether they are doing enough for Christ. While they once rejoiced in the Holy Spirit’s power at work in their lives, they now try to serve God in their own strength. Joyful worship turns into dry duty. The Christian life loses its power.
On Sunday, October 1, we will continue our study in the book of Galatians by looking at a passage where the Apostle Paul deals with this problem. In Galatians 3:1-14, he writes to church members who, though they had begun the Christian life “by means of the Spirit” were now “trying to finish by means of the flesh”.
Though they knew that they had initially been accepted into God’s family through faith in Christ, the Galatian believers were foolishly thinking that the way to advance spiritually was through their own human effort. They were envisioning the Christian life as a joint project between themselves and the Lord. They saw salvation as something started by God’s grace but then brought to completion through their own hard work.
Paul’s solution to their problem was not to goad them into trying harder or to give them a pep talk to whip up their emotions. His solution was to remind them of the gospel. He reminds them that the gospel is not a self-improvement program in which we learn to put God’s principles into practice. The gospel is a message of rescue – Jesus rescued us from the curse of sin by taking that sin upon himself. Now the age-old promise of blessing, once given to Abraham, is poured out on all of us who simply believe.
Pastor Dick Kaufmann has often said, ‘Christians think that we are saved by the gospel but then grow by applying biblical principles to every area of life. But we are not just saved by the gospel; we grow by applying the gospel to every area of life.’ When we learn to do this – when we learn to grow by faith in the gospel rather than by reliance on our own effort – we find the joy we first had when we met Jesus being restored and sustained